So, to combat the fact that I hadn’t written a poem in an age (last was in October), I went to a nearby park to sit, think and see if I can reconnect with myself. In the end, I was able to write:
Letter To A Friend
When I feel down,
As I have for the past few months.
I pick up the pad you gave me,
And I read the words you left me.
You have much faith in me,
These days I can’t see why.
I often feel like a failure to myself
As well as to my loved ones.
Especially around certain times of the year.
I often wish I could see,
What you see, when you look at me.
I would love to draw strength from that
And know that there is much,
Or at least a little to claim pride in.
I look ahead, to see.
To see what lies before me, and the path is not clear.
I feel tis a narrow road and I must clear a path for myself.
I look to my past. To previous thoughts and readings,
I am reminded that David often had cause to encourage himself.
I have trouble trying to draw parallels with him.
Even as I did when I was a man of faith.
I hear words from my favourite tv characters,
The Doctor, Merlin, Sherlock et al
Yet, I could not presume to place myself among such exalted company.
Though, if I would seek greatness, is it not their kin I must look to?
Can I not draw parallels here?
Is it too late to try?
Am I unworthy?
Who is worthy, if I cannot be?
All is in my hands.
But where do I turn?
I feel like a rudderless ship. Adrift in a storm.
With no idea which way is my North.
I look around to seek out answers.
In times gone past, I was told,
Look to the hills, as from there comes my help.
But I am no longer that man.
Those words no longer belong to me.
They belong to another.
I know not who.
Many moons ago, I was told of a destiny that was mine.
Is it no longer for me?
The underlying sadness I felt, even as a man of faith.
Remains, tears and claws at me.
The tenet I hold in hand.
Do what your hands find to do.
This I continue to do.
I am not comfortable.
And this is fine.
If I was, I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t try.
But I know not what I am supposed to do.
My strength has never been born of myself.
Ever was it born from others.
As much as I hated it,
It would appear I was never truly independent.
And much have I hated that.
You were the strength I never knew I needed.
In truth, I’m not even sure I wanted.
I fought you.
Because I fear that is all I know.
For good or ill, this has been my help.
Who do I fight?
Where is the iron to sharpen me?
And so I am lost.
I’m sure that in time, I will find my way.
It is me afterall.
In the meantime, I shall wait.
Try to find direction again.
I shall wait.
Unfortunately, it won’t be patiently.
The last few months have been a bit difficult for me. In truth, it’s not completely unexpected. When you branch out to forge a different path for yourself than the one you’re already on, there are bound to be a plethora of difficulties. What makes things sometimes worse is that I haven’t written in an absolute age. So I went looking through some of my older work, in the hopes of maybe finding some inspiration on reconnecting with myself. And I came across this:
Why Must I Write
Why exactly must I write?
Shall I write to show you my very heart?
Or shall I write simply because I can?
In truth I write because I feel I must.
I feel I must catalogue all, before I return to dust.
Yeah, when all is said and done, and everything is gone.
It must be written down.
It must be written down.
The battles that were fought?
They must be written down.
The conquests that we had?
They must be written down.
The hearts that we broke? Yes, they must all be written down.
This, is why I write.
I write to tell you my story.
Now you know, will you share my glory?
At the end of every year I write a new poem to usher in the new year. Last year, for the first time in a number of years, I neglected to do so. I shan’t do the same this year.
2014 has been a year of change for me. In January, I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance, with a fairly clear plan for the year. I was going to travel to Italy, as I had done during the summer for a few years. I had planned to spend a few months there, then possibly head to Ankara, Turkey for another few months. Italy fell through, and I had to change my plans. Halfway through the year, I moved to Berlin. I write this on Christmas eve and I’m sitting on my bed (I’ll type it up later)
It’s my first Christmas away from the UK in over two decades. Though I’ve spent the season on my own in years gone by. It feels quite different to be in a new country that I am yet to be able to call home. And as I prepare to celebrate my first Christmas away from home, I gain new respect for the many international students I have known over the years. I don’t know how you did. Though, I’m glad you did, and I am richer for knowing you.
As I sit here, I think on the future. For the last decade, I had followed a plan. I’ve come to the end of that and I have no plan now. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that it’s a scary place for me.
A new year beckons.
A new day begins.
As this new sun rises,
A new season begins with it.
A season of hope.
A season of joy.
A season of fulfilled dreams.
A season of new drive.
A season of new challenges.
Just like any other.
But a season with new determination.
So you need not run for cover.
As we open ours eyes.
To face this new day.
We think new thoughts.
We dream new dreams.
We see new faces.
To guide us on our way.
We step into new phases.
And in joy, our heads we lay.
Purpose must drive you.
And circumstance, not beguile you.
You need to be clear,
on who it is you are.
Be that one,
who believes in dreams.
Be that one,
who knows dreams can come true.
Lean not on excuse.
Don’t let fear stop you.
Negativity, you must refuse.
Else your tears proceed to drown you.
And when dark days come.
As they tend to do.
Reach deep inside,
To the strength in you.
Forget not, who you are.
Neglect not, your distant star.
Rather, stand firm for what you believe.
Reach far and you may yet receive.
Be brave and you’ll achieve.
Be true to you and in yourself believe.
As the new day begins,
see in it, a new hope.
See in it, a new chance.
And don’t be afraid.
Look back, to see where you’ve come from.
Then look forward, see where you’re going.
With a smile on your face, and hope in your heart.
Know that the future is indeed bright!
Happy New Year everyone! Make 2015 amazing! 🙂
I often get asked about my writing process, and how I write a song. What is your process? I’m often asked. As each song is different, I always try to look at it in retrospect and write from there.
This time around, as I’m in essence still writing the song, I will try to give you a more play by play description, if I can.
A few weeks ago at the end of a band rehearsal, the guitarist I’m currently working, started playing the beginnings of what he tells me is an old Brazilian song. The first 4 – 8 bars were some simply chords, played in arpeggio with a flattened fourth or fifth, giving it a very modal sound. I latched onto that with a simple melody and lyrics that came to me on the spot:
This is a new song.
That I’m writing right now
It’s a new melody
And it’s not quite the blues.
I told Joao (guitarist) that I didn’t want to hear the rest of the song, and just to let me use that beginning as a springboard for the rest. Walking down the road that night, I started singing it, adding to it, trying to let the melody flow by itself:
At the next rehearsal, we started working it. We started by listening to the above audio and going from there. In trying to find the rest of the song, I kept the first few lines and made stuff up to work with the chord progression that was being created. I added words as the melody was coming to me. The words were just filler, so that I could nail down the melody. Though, the chorus worked as it was, so I knew that was a keeper. I went away, worked on lyrics some more, to fit the melody. And by the end of our last rehearsal, this is what we had:
From the above you can see what we kept from the little audio snippet and what we threw out. There is still a little way to go, work things in properly. Some words I still wish to change, and I will allow those to come to me as and when. Tis just a little glimpse into what is sometimes my writing process. Sometimes, I bring a completed song to the band to work through. While other times, like with this song (still undecided whether to stick with ‘On My Mind’ or the original title of ‘New Song’) it starts with the tiniest bit (4-8 bars) and the song comes from there.
Then I saw a status update by River Ram Press run by a friend of mine. And it said something along the lines of ‘Just write!”
So, here I am writing. As I begin, I haven’t a clue what I shall actually write, but write I shall nevertheless. Walking home from work and my randomised playlist started playing a song I very much love ‘Details In The Fabric’ and it got me thinking. It’s one of those songs that encourages you by evoking the tears if they need to come out. When you’re feeling a touch melancholy it can sometimes help to listen to an emotive song. It’s one of motivated me to write my song ‘Sunrise’
I’ve a friend who tells me it’s song that helps her feel better when she’s feeling somewhat morose. It always makes me happy to know that I’ve been able to write a song that actually comforts her when she’s feeling bad.
I somewhat amateurishly created a little video for it. I shared it an age ago, but here it is again:
I hope you enjoy it.
As I write this just after 5.30am. I’ve been off work ill over the last few days and the joys of being ill mean I can be at my laptop now trying to write a blog. Of course, the good thing about being ill is the alone time and the time to think that I have. I remember writing a while ago about my my best songs/poetry coming from honesty. Well, I think I shall give that a try now with this blog entry. I generally don’t talk to people much about what’s going on in my mind. I think I shall use this blog for that. So I ask that you indulge me for a while, as I work through one or two things going through my mind.
It’s been over a month since my last written blog. I’ve been trying ever so hard over the least few weeks to write something, and on Facebook I even got friends to give me suggestions as to what I should write about. As I walked home from work about a fortnight ago, I started thinking about it. In trying to understand where I am now, I considered the last number of years and my progress.
As soon as I finished my undergrad degree, I started work as the President of the Students’ Union. The very day after that finished, I traveled to work in Italy for 4 months. On my return, also the very next day, I started studying for my Masters degree. Recently finished that and I haven’t started something else that’s quite as all encompassing as yet. I have a good job, I’m comfortable. And that’s the problem.
I’m itching for another project. Itching isn’t quite the right word. Desperately seeking else I drown in comfortable, might be a better description. One of the reasons I left the 9-5 life many years ago was the feeling that has recently returned to me. The living for the weekend, the ‘loss’ of creativity. The hunger for something beyond the monthly paycheck or the occasional gig with the band.
I like my job. I love meeting new people and doing what I can to help them. I love the people I work with. Everyday I tell them that the only other place I’ve worked at that mixes the same blend of insanity and professionalism is the Kingston University Students’ Union. It’s unlike any other office I’ve worked at prior to coming to Kingston. That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to work at the International Office in the first place. Despite that, it’s not enough. I’m glad I will only be there until the end of July. I don’t regret taking this job. In truth, I’m happy I did. It’s reminded me that the 9-5 life is so not for me. I managed it for almost 10 years before coming to Kingston, only because the jobs were mundane enough, that my mind could be elsewhere all the while. I wrote my book while at work and I dreamed dreams of grandiose achievements while there. 10 -15 years later, and I have managed to scale some of the heights I had my eyes set on.
While I have indeed have set some new dreams/targets for myself, my current life means I have nothing left of myself at the end of the day, to create. The part of me that creates seems to be blunted, and try as I may to ‘sharpen’ it, I come up with naught. Now, as I sit at my laptop, I can feel things percolating again inside this little cranium of mine and I remember that I used to do my best writing at night. When all around is still, the sky is dark and number of those walking the streets counts in the single digits. Once or twice I would take a walk around Surbiton at stupid o’clock and breathe in the air. Walk to the river and watch its calmness and come back home to create. I would know it was time to stop writing when it started to get light out. My aim now, is to find a way that my optimum hours of creativity can be used to create, instead of trying to sleep. And my weekends need to be used on more than just trying to relax and recuperate in time for the week to come. Which means that when this job is done at the end of July I need to grab the bull by its proverbial horns and hold on tight. A new project is beginning to form in my mind. And this is good. I hope this will quell the gnawing feeling of disquiet and dissatisfaction that has been plaguing me these last few months. And that gives me cause to smile at 06.53 on this Wednesday morning.
Syfy am always consists of Smallville, then Buffy. Smallville’s just finished. Buffy next, then sleep. I’ve decided I shall return to the office tomorrow. Things to do etc. So, until next time people, have a great day!
On Friday I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance.
I don’t do pride much, as those of you who read my blog about my single release and other ‘achievements’ will know. But as I look back over the last number of years, I do feel a touch of pride indeed. I am no academic, I am horrendous at academic writing. My writing style is colloquial to say the least, not the approach required for academic writing at all. I still remember thinking the Under Graduate degree was a trial. On beginning the Masters degree, I came to a new understanding of the word stress. So, despite being a tad disappointed with my final grade, I am very happy indeed to have gained my Masters qualification. In the years to come, I hope I can make my family and Kingston University proud.
My graduation weekend began with the ceremony itself on Friday 24 January at The Rose Theatre in Kingston. Eason Chan, a Cantopop megastar received an honorary PhD at the ceremony, which added a certain glamour to the whole event. And I must say, getting to talk to him afterwards and asking questions of him at his press conference just made the day even better.
With family and friends in attendance, the day was beyond amazing. From Eason’s speech, to the vote of thanks by a ‘mature’ student, and then being awarded my degree by Julius, a man I know and have a great deal of respect for. He actually plugged me at the press conference! It was an amazing day. 🙂
With all the pressure I was under and the fear I wouldn’t complete the masters programme, I now ask myself if it was all worth it. My answer is yes, it most certainly was. Attending that ceremony did more than mark the end of of something. It helped to validate everything that I had to deal with over the last two years. My love for performance and for music, were the reasons I decided to extend my study in my field. Higher Education remains the way forward, no matter what certain papers may tell you. It is because of this value that it remains a bargaining piece in the political games that have been played over the last number of years in this country. And why the Liberal Democrats have much to worry about come the next general election. But, this isn’t a blog about politics. This is a blog about hope and belief. I will continue to advice others to study their passions. Seek to learn more about what you love. The PG course, as ardous as it can be, will question your understanding of your subject. It will make you question yourself and it will give you a better understanding of why you love what you love. So, it is important to know that the value of the degree isn’t in the money you have to pay for it. It is in what you get out of it. And I have always held the belief that if I want something badly enough there is nothing that will stop me from getting it. I am hardwired to try and keep trying until the final bell tolls. I worked two jobs to pay my way through my masters and didn’t get much by way of sleep. And once again, I ask, was it worth it? YES it most certainly was. Find out what you want, then go and get it. The first part of that is important. As once you know you want it, there’s no stopping you. In his speech, Eason Chan said that one should always have a kind heart. I’ve tried to keep with that motto. It’s harder to do at sometimes, but I still try. And will continue to do so.
I once told myself, when all seemed lost almost fifteen years ago, that I either fight or die, no middle ground. I’ve been fighting ever since. For me there has only ever been one option. And that is to win. And so I will, by nook or by crook. There are too many people to thank and continue thanking. I love you with all of me.
What’s next for me I hear you ask? Well, I’m currently working at Kingston International, with an amazing team of people. Will be there till the end of July. At this point I shall head to Italy to work till the end of Sept. Yesterday, I met with the MD (Musical Director) of the band I work with over there. Looking forward to working with them again. Afterwards, the next chapter in the adventure that is my life shall begin. To say I’m excited for the future doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel right now. 🙂
My graduation weekend concludes today, with a performance with my newly formed band ‘TJ and Friends’ at the Rose Theatre. So, if you’re in and around Kingston Upon Thames today, head to the Rose Theatre, where the 1st Annual Kingston Arts Student Festival will be taking place. The day begins at 12pm, till about 6pm. I will be on stage at 4.30.
Look forward to seeing you there! 🙂
And once again, thank you all for your support and your strength!
While I’m still yet to produce the finished song for the poem ‘I Let Go’ here’s a video of a rehearsal with the band. We’re working on a version of India Arie’s ‘Ready For Love’ We should be finished in Jan sometime.